Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dog and Cat Kiss: Interpretations differ - what's your take?

Many folks look at this photo and see a pretty little dog and cat kissing. What we see depends a lot on what we expect. I live with these two characters and what I see are two rivals inspecting the competition.  My pets are companionable but not affectionate with each other, and are often jealous of, or at least very interested in the attention or tidbitts the other gets. In this photo, I think they are checking each others cheeks and breath to see if one has eaten anything the other has missed, checking each others physical status and mood. This sweet little kitty often bites the dogs ears, lips or toes to drive her out of a spot of sun that the cat wants for herself.  The dog, who is aware that direct aggression on the cat is not an option within this pack, for her part will secretly steal the cat's food whenever she has the opportunity.

We often find it necessary to anthropomorphize or romanticize animals, especially when describing them to children, but they have their own agenda and motivations which differ greatly from our own.  This is the cause of a lot of injury.  A child assumes this is their beautiful stuffed toy to hug and drag about by an ear or a limb.  The cat, dog, rabbit, hamster responds with teeth to this attack, ends up euthanized, not beause they were evil or dangerous -- but because their owners were irresponsibly ignorant of their needs and nature.  When any dog is left alone with a small child and injury results it is most usually the fault of the supervising human being. If you own a gun and your toddler shoots someone with it, you are negligent and you get a fine. If you own a dog, and someone is injured, you might pay damages, but in the final tally its the poor dog that pays the price for your lack of objective knowledge about nature.
-- Mar Walker